WASHINGTON, D.C. (KCBD) - Day 2 of the Texas South Plains Honor Flight is difficult to summarize, just like the emotions our more than 80 veterans felt while visiting the national monuments built to honor them and the wars they fought.
“I’m blessed to have been chosen to be on this trip,” Korean War veteran Leslie Cross said. “I think of all the citizens, individuals that have contributed to make this possible. We never dreamed we would witness something like this. We thank God for Lubbock.”
Cross was one of the veterans who participated in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
“It’s a great honor,” Cross said. “It is a tradition that is lived in history and I am a part of it.”
The visit to Arlington was the first stop on the second day of the trip.
The next stops were the Women in Military Service for America Memorial and the Marine Corps Memorial, which depicts the flag raising at Iwo Jima.
Congressman Jodey Arrington then welcomed our veterans at the United States Captiol for a special tour of the House of Representatives.
“Half have never been to their nation’s capital to see their capitol building and all the history here, but especially the monuments and the memorials erected to them, to honor them and to remind generations of the price of freedom and the men and women who are willing to risk everything for our freedoms and for our country and for our way of life,” Arrington said. “It just doesn’t get any better than today. It doesn’t get any better because these guys are living monuments. They are living memorials to the kind of character and substance like just grit and love of country, sacrifice. These guys embody, they embody the very best of American values. So, I’m the one that gets the blessing of being inspired and encouraged. I’m looking forward to this event every year. I wish we could do them once a week.”
Then came the very emotional parts of the day. The three buses of veterans, guardians and staff arrived at the National Mall.
The next wreath laying was at the Korean War Memorial. Strangers and visitors of the memorial parted and made way for the procession of our veterans and bagpiper.
“We did a good job over there while we were there,” Veteran Bob Guenther Jr. said of his time in the Korea conflict. " I appreciate everyone there with me."
Guenther Jr. was one of the four Korean War veterans who escorted the wreath to the memorial. He was welcomed by a man from Seoul, South Korea who extended his hand of friendship.
“We will never forget your service," he said. “Thank you.”
The group moved across the Mall, stopping at the Lincoln Memorial for a photo and to sing “God Bless America.”
In formation and led by our largest group of veterans, the Vietnam veterans, they marched down the wall of the Vietnam Memorial. Thousands of names of those killed in the war pass by them.
“It’s a long wall,” Henry Lamb said. “We need to realize just what it cost us. An awful lot of guys gave their life for... I’m not sure what. I hope we learned something.”
Lamb, an Air Force veteran, said the squadron the he was in was being disbanded as new personnel were being brought in with new aircraft. He enrolled in air traffic control school. But, that’s when his order came to go to the Korean conflict.
“They told them I already had orders so someone from your squadron has to go,” Lamb said. “My buddy Oscar, O.B. we called him, O.B. Weston got my assignment. He went to Korea and wasn’t there too long until he was sent to Vietnam to do a recon mission and got shot down. He was one of the first ones.”
This was the first time Lamb saw his friend’s name on the national monument.
“It tears me up,” Lamb said emotionally. “It could have been me.”
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